Methuen High student held without bail after allegedly threatening to attack school with AK-47

A 17-year-old Methuen High School student was held without bail today after being arraigned on charges that he told a classmate he wanted to buy an AK-47 and wage a Columbine-style attack on his school.

Jacob Butze-Maille also allegedly told the classmate, a 15-year-old girl, that she would be the first to be killed if she told anyone of his plan, Essex County Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Gillespie said at a hearing in Lawrence District Court.

Judge Michael J. Brooks ordered Butze-Maille held for up to 90 days, slating a Jan. 4 probable cause hearing, after prosecutors argued that Butze-Maille was too dangerous to go free.

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“I find there are no conditions that would reasonably ensure the safety of the community,” Brooks said. “These are alarming and disturbing allegations, I think, compounded by the threat [to the witness].”

Butze-Maille is facing charges of threatening to commit murder, intimidation of a witness, and willfully communicating a threat concerning a dangerous item, Methuen police said.

Gillespie also said school officials had told law enforcement officials that Butze-Maille had previously discussed Columbine and made references to guns and violence.

“Detention is the most appropriate way to secure the safety of the community,” she said.

Defense attorney Jessica Thrall of Salem said her client, who has been working at a Market Basket as a bagger for the past month, had no prior criminal history.

She also said that the St. Ann’s Home & School, the facility where Butze-Maille lives, had offered to take him back under very strict conditions. She said he would continue with therapy he has been receiving there, if he were released.

Butze-Maille, who had short black hair, wore a black hoodie, black baggy pants, and sneakers during the hearing. His mother was in the courtroom but did not comment after the hearing.

The student Butze-Maille spoke to reported the threats Thursday to school officials, Methuen police said.

After the threats were reported, an investigation was undertaken by Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon and Methuen School Superintendent Judith A. Scannell. They quickly obtained an arrest warrant for Butze-Maille.

“The Methuen Police and the Methuen School Department take all threats of violence seriously,” the police department said in a statement posted on the department’s Facebook page.